One thing that has puzzled me for some time now is why does Veronica Escobar continue to protect Jim Valenti. Yes, I am aware that Veronica Escobar was “infuriated” with Jim Valenti about his $120,000 bonus last year, in spite of the layoffs he implemented. However, as critical as she has been of Valenti, Escobar has argued that Jim Valenti must remain in place while the El Paso Children’s Hospital fiasco is resolved. She was quoted by the El Paso Inc. on December 15, 2014 in “UMC board takes no action against CEO gaffes” by David Crowder. In that article, Crowder quoted Veronica Escobar as stating, “The last thing you want to see is a train wreck” referring to the possible firing of Valenti. Escobar added that there may be “short-term pain for long-term gain” referring to the Children’s Hospital coming under UMC’s control.

As most of you know there is much controversy about whether children’s should be merged into UMC, or not.

Some of you are going to argue that Veronica Escobar should not get herself involved in the firing of department heads that are governed by their own boards. Yet, history has proven that Veronica Escobar has no problem demanding that someone be fired. As most of you are aware, on December 5, 2014, Veronica Escobar demanded the resignations of William Hanson and Laura Ponce from the Board of Managers of the El Paso County Hospital District. Neither resigned and they were not reappointed.

In 2011 there was some significant controversy involving the El Paso Health Mental Retardation and the County. Like UMC, the MHMR, which was governed by a nine-member board, was facing serious financial woes and its CEO’s income was being scrutinized. This is very similar to the ongoing issues facing UMC, yet Valenti’s actions have been more egregious.

MHMR’s CEO, Gary Larcenaire was given an employee contract that called for $127,000 if he were terminated or died, by the MHMR board. MHMR had recently lost $2 million in funding.

Veronica Escobar led an effort to have Larcenaire fired as CEO. She did this by pushing the County to dissolve the existing MHMR board. On January 24, 2011, the County Commissioners voted two to one to dissolve the 9-member board and replace it with a 7-member board. Veronica Escobar and Sergio Lewis voted in favor of restructuring the MHMR board. Dan Haggerty voted against the measure. Willie Gandara and Anna Perez were not present for the vote.

Although Gary Larcenaire was not fired by the new board that was constituted, he resigned a few months later, although it appears that he received the controversial bonus.

Clearly, Veronica Escobar has control over an errant board as evidenced by her push to dissolve the MHMR board and replace it with a more palatable one.

Now contrast that with the ongoing debacle of the El Paso Children’s Hospital bankruptcy.

Although we do not know the factual underlining issue that kept the two entities from reaching an agreement prior to the bankruptcy, we can infer from the public record that the likely reason that a settlement was not reached was that UMC wants to takeover children’s.

Veronica Escobar has publicly started that the solution to the Children’s Hospital problem is to bring it under the umbrella of UMC. The El Paso Children’s board and pediatricians have been vocal against being merged into UMC.

Is this the reason Veronica Escobar has refused to call for the firing of Jim Valenti even through the numerous controversies involving Jim Valenti?

I have written many times that Veronica Escobar’s end game with the El Paso Children’s Hospital has been to have direct control over it via UMC. This allows her an ongoing tax increase scapegoat while giving her control over monies that are outside of government transparency.

UMC can take control of Children’s by simply “forgiving” the rent and services monies owed to it without having to make children’s a public entity. They already tried that but apparently, children’s didn’t want to play along.

The more I think about it the more I believe that Jim Valenti is safe as long as he keeps his secrets, secret. Thus, you have a CEO that knows he can say anything he wants because masked in the faux outrage lies the inconvenient truth that he is a useful idiot for the Veronica Escobar agenda.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “Why Is Veronica Escobar Protecting Jim Valenti”

  1. What do you bet that, after she and the UMC Board get their way, and EPCH comes under the full control of UMC, that several million dollars a year rent will magically disappear, and no longer be charged? Hey! That might actually save the taxpayers a few bucks!

  2. He cannot fail because she will fall with him. She put all her chips on him to win. She still believes she is ready for higher office. Can you image the embarrassement for El Paso if she was to go to Austin. They already have a low opinion, do we want it any lower.

    I’m willing to bet they’ve had a couple of “executive sessions” to discuss the plan. The plan that she is to attack him for public consumption and not to worry about losing his job. Anyway he knows too much and too smart to fall on the sword for her. She can’t afford to fail therefore will do whatever is necessary. Not far behind will be the Gonadness commissioners that will gasp and pretend to faint whenever anyone mentions that they are part of the problem. If caught they will use the old defense “We were only following orders”.

    She is slick as soon as she heard that gasoline prices will drop in the fall she saw an opportunity. Give the county a raise to distract the public and placate the masses. Hang tight she also saw gas prices as a way to increase taxes. You ain’t getting something for nothing.

    Saved by the Gas. Now you will forget the hospital chaos, the MPO failed coup, soda gate, her ineptness and wasteful spending to build a legacy. I have a good laugh when some people tell me “she’s very powerful and can do whatever she wants”. No, she’s not powerful, she does what she wants because the voters are weak and the commissioners lost their gonads. Check her office walks, each sack is hung in District order.

  3. “He was underpaid in my opinion and I based that on what other city managers are being paid. If you look around the state at cities comparable to El Paso, he’s underpaid. And to take somebody that is underpaid who’s producing these kinds of results, my fear is that he was going to be stolen,” said Noe.

    I read this today and I could not believe it. If this City Manager has any sense he will reject such salary increase from incompetent fools like Noe. Over half of el paso citizens are going to bed hungry and we have to deal with the results of idiots pretending to have some form of knowledge.

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